In His Final Works, Brice Marden Found Freedom

Dated between 2020 and 2023, the artworks in Brice Marden: Let the painting make you at Gagosian are the artist’s final ones. In 2017, Marden, who died this August at the age of 84, learned that he had rectal cancer. When asked about this, he told the New York Times in 2019, “[it] hasn’t made me work any differently. It’s just an extra thing to think about.” Marden, who has often been credited with rejuvenating painting in the mid-1960s, knew that painting and drawing were physical acts for him, the result of movements made by the hand, wrist, arm, and active body. More than 30 years ago, in a prescient interview with the artist Pat Steir printed in a brochure for the 1991–1992 exhibition Brice Marden: Cold Mountain at Dia Chelsea, Marden stated: “I am 5’8 1/2″, and I weigh this much, and I am left handed, and I’m a certain age. That has a big effect on what a thing looks like. The kind of mark I can make physically.”

And in a 2015 conversation about the Nevis Stele series (2007–15), Marden told the artist Matt Connors, “I’m getting to the point where I do things I ordinarily wouldn’t have allowed myself to do. Now I’m a little bit older, so I figure I can do anything I want.”

Featured image: Brice Marden, “Blue Painting” (2022–23), oil on linen, 72 x 96 inches (all images © 2023 Estate of Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York; photos Rob McKeever, courtesy Gagosian)

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